26 September 2023

PS from the PaSt: 22–28 May 2013

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1. This week 10 years ago, Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus announced Australia would join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral organisation promoting transparency in government, encouraging citizen participation and tackling corruption.

Mr Dreyfus said Australia shared the values of the OGP and had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with other nations in the partnership, and membership would complement Australia’s leadership internationally in promoting democracy, transparency and good governance.

“We believe that greater openness and accountability in government promotes public participation in government processes and leads to better informed decision-making,” Mr Dreyfus said.

2. Geoscience Australia added a new antenna calibration facility to its Canberra headquarters to improve the accuracy of satellite positioning technologies.

The state-of-the-art Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) robotic antenna calibration facility was one of only three of its kind in the world and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.

As well as supporting development of the resources industry, the facility would help to meet the increasing demand for greater positioning accuracy in scientific investigations such as earthquake hazard mapping, climate change monitoring and tracking environmental variations over time.

Minister for Science and Research, Senator Don Farrell said the GNSS would increase satellite positioning precision to less than 1 millimetre and would enhance some of the leading-edge geospatial capabilities already available to Australian researchers.

3. NSW Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian announced new transport officers were being introduced to target fare evasion across the public transport network.

Ms Berejiklian said the officers’ roles would include checking tickets and assisting customers and would complement the police transport command that took over the security of public transport from transit officers in May 2012.

She said this was the first time the State would have a dedicated team with an integrated approach across trains, buses and ferries.

“Customer safety and revenue protection are important to passengers and taxpayers and the combined efforts of the police transport command and transport officers mean people can feel confident to travel on the public transport network,” Minister for Police, Michael Gallacher said.

4. In South Australia, new laws were to be introduced into Parliament to limit a court’s power to hand out suspended sentences to violent offenders, those who committed a serious violent offence who had also received a suspended sentence in the previous three years for another serious violent offence, as well as any person charged with offences related to serious and organised crime.

Attorney-General, John Rau said the community expected that people who committed serious acts of violence would serve time in prison and not have their sentences suspended.

“These laws will mean that instead of walking free from court, more violent offenders as well as those involved in organised crime will leave court in a Corrections van,” Mr Rau said.

5. Also in South Australia, a new online web portal was launched under the $8.1 million E-mergency Connect project to allow Country Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers to share their experiences and knowledge online with their colleagues while also providing online training induction and updates.

Minister for Emergency Services, Michael O’Brien said the portal allowed volunteers to individually access centralised services from any location with broadband access at any time.

Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said that through the E-mergency Connect project, 17,000 volunteers who provided critical emergency services to the South Australian community would be able to “tap into their colleagues’ collective knowledge through secure access to the portal from their depots or home”.

6. And a decade ago, Western Australians were provided with a new app to distinguish between poisonous cane toads and the harmless native frogs of the State’s Kimberley region.

Minister for Environment, Albert Jacob said cane toads were prevalent in the east Kimberley and, despite the ongoing efforts of community groups and the State Government, they were continuing to move west.

He said the free Cane Toad App was an easily accessible resource for students, northern WA travellers, truck drivers and the community, providing visual, audio and written data about six native Kimberley frogs and toads in three stages of the life cycle, and even a “frog log” to record frog sightings.

“Up to two-thirds of suspected toads turn out to be harmless native frogs, so correct identification of the species is important,” Mr Jacob said.

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